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Rules for Talking to Kids About Drugs

by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

This article appears in the July 2005 NEBLINE Newsletter


Understand Why

Almost always it's rebellion, alienation, despair, peer pressure or some combination. As a parent, you can have a powerful effect on how your kids deal with these things. And whether they see drugs as an answer. One of the biggest deterrents is talking with your kids about drugs.

Take a Stand

Perhaps the single biggest deterrent to drug use is talking with your kids about the subject — early, often and specifically. Don't despair if it doesn't seem to register. Weeks or months later you’ll very likely hear your words coming back to you.

Listen

One of the biggest deterrents to drug use is talking with your kids about the subject. But don't do all the talking. Listen. Ask questions. Find out what they think. If you don't listen to them they won't talk to you, much less listen to you.

Set the Rules

Kids need to know exactly what the rules are. The rules have to be clear, consistent, reasonable. And enforced. Every kids will try to find out exactly how far he or she can go. And drugs are no place for trial or error.

Start Early

Just as surely as you need to teach your kids not to play in the road, you need to teach them about the dangers of drugs. They'll very likely be exposed to drugs from kindergarten on. So say it early. Say it often. And match the message to your child's age.

Educate Yourself

It's not a matter of learning the latest street talk. It's a matter of learning why crack is so dangerous. Marijuana can often lead to hard drugs. Every illegal drug has the potential of causing catastrophic damage to your child.

Get Involved

Perhaps the single biggest deterrent to drug abuse is communication — simply talking with your kids about drugs. That's almost impossible unless you've built a foundation. By doing things with them. By getting involved with their school and their sports. By knowing their friends.

Don't Preach

One of the greatest deterrents to drug use is simply talking with your kids. But don't preach or you'll lose them. If a conversation lasts more than five minutes, you're preaching. Better to have lots of five-minute conversations. Kids have short attention spans and shorter memories. To learn more about how to talk with your kids about drugs, call for a free parent’s handbook, 1-800-624-0100.

This information was provided by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.






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